Saturday, December 02, 2006


Today we took a trip to the local model railroading club. They were having an open house and we knew Thomas would love it.

For the last month, I have heard nothing but, "I want electric trains for Christmas." This was another reason we went.

We spent almost two hours watching trains, talking to club members, and learning tricks of the trade. All three of us asked many, many questions.

After about an hour of our endless questions, we were -- rather my husband and Thomas were asked if they would like to join the club. We're in small-town Minnesota and I'm afraid that I complained about the sexism exhibited first thing when we got out of there. It was as if I was not even there. One club member we were talking to blew me off. Oh well.

Anyway, aside from that, we had a great time. Thomas is begging his dad to join the club. It meets once a week. It is mostly grown-ups, but a few kids attend with their parents and grandparents -- or I should say dads and grandpas.

When we got in the car, I mentioned to my husband that this may just be the answer to the question: what are we going to replace Cub Scouts with! Except that Bob will have to go to meetings rather than me. It's socialization, albeit not necessarily with a same-age peer group, at least it's with people who have like interests. It's extremely educational. Thomas will learn about history, electricity, scale, math -- have to know how to do a radius to lay a track, scenery/art, engineering, how to build a tressel and other things -- its educational opportunities are actually endless.

Bob reluctantly agreed. He's only slightly interested in model railroading. He worked for a railroad for 14 years prior to going back to college. He actually works in the railroad industry now. So even though he knows a lot and this will all come easy to him, I think when he comes home at the end of the day, he'd rather forget work. Oh well, what we won't do for our kids, right?

Bob and I were both more interested in the sceneries than the railroads themselves. What fabulous artistic opportunities await us! The men told us that the next time we're at a garage sale to buy a used Christmas tree. They buy them used, cut them up, and instant trees. They use gravel and run them through a sifter to make ballast. They even used cockleburs glued together and spray painted green for bushes.

Thomas, of course, was interested in the trains. He's been interested in trains since he was one. Trying to choose an engine was torture. I think Santa will have to choose his first engine. Thomas has a grandpa who worked for Union Pacific for over 40 years. Grandpa was a fireman and then an engineer. His father worked for a railroad in Indiana. Railroading is in Thomas's blood.

If I were rich, I'd buy Thomas a Big Boy. My dad worked on the Big Boys. They were the largest steam engines ever built. Thomas visited the Big Boy in a park in Cheyenne, Wyoming when he was 4. It's hard to grasp the enormity of the engine by the photo. They're.really.big. My dad worked on every single Big Boy ever made. I'd like to buy him one, but at nearly $300, I just can't afford it.

I'm just happy that this opportunity came up. I'm hoping Bob will be a sport about this because Thomas will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it.

South Dakota in November

Thomas, in Keystone, South Dakota. Carrie Ingalls lived and died here. Only a couple shops were open in November. It was the first time ever I was able to park on the main drag. We had planned on eating lunch here, but no restaurants were open!
Mountain goats at the exit of Mt. Rushmore. I have been to Mt. Rushmore probably 100 or more times. Never have I seen mountain goats! As we were leaving, I spotted one crossing the road. Since there was zero traffic at Rushmore, I just parked the car in the road and we watched. What a delight this was! One came up to the car and had I been in the passenger side, I could have rolled my window down and touched him. (I wouldn't have, though, as they are wild animals.)
Can't see this too well, but it's a bison. We drove half of the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. We pulled over to watch the bison. I think there were five. Thomas was delighed as one stood up, stretched like a dog or cat would extending its hind legs, and then proceeded to produce a buffalo chip. Thomas laughed about that for the next half hour. No wonder I have so many gray hairs!
The stage at Mt. Rushmore. Thomas had tons of energy so I told him to run to the bottom and I'd snap his picture. He did, twice. There was a lady sitting on a bench and I told her if I had to run up the stairs as he had just done, I'd die. She laughed and said she was thinking the same exact thing.
Thomas getting up close and personal with Mt. Rushmore. Dig those white socks! I had just bought four new pair of jeans for him, but he threw on an old pair. I didn't notice until I snapped this picture.
Thomas at Mt. Rushmore. Don't know who that little boy is to the right.

It was a beautiful day, warm. We both wore light jackets. Mt. Rushmore had so few visitors, we had front-row parking. I must admit that since they redid the grounds at Mt. Rushmore, I don't enjoy it. It used to be so beautiful. Now it just seems cold. Parking used to be free, now it's not. I think Gutzon Borglum wouldn't be happy with what they did. He was a genius and it is my humble opinion that they detracted from his work with their cold, ugly granite empire they built. Notice I didn't take any photos of the ugly pathway or the ugly granite pillars?

We had a late lunch at the Olive Garden, my favorite restaurant, in Rapid City. We then visited Toys R Us and Hobby Lobby. Then home to my inlaws' house.

This trip was made before the cowboy died, on our first visit.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

School, what's that?

We arrived home this evening. We are all exhausted, emotionally and physically. My husband said to me that I needed to start school tomorrow full swing.



We just got home. I have suitcases to unpack, a gazillion loads of laundry to do, a grocery store to go to, bills to pay, a stack of mail to go through, a check that needs to be deposited, sleep to catch up on, floors to sweep, couches to vacuum. (Snowball shed half his hair while we were gone! There are big, white clumps of hair everywhere.) I have an uncooked turkey to throw out, a fridge to clean and sanitize, meals to plan and cook, cub scout pop corn to pick up and deliver, a cub scout meeting to reschedule. I have a car that is completely trashed full of travel crumbs and dog hair. It is covered in mud as DH's mom lived in the country on red-dirt country roads. I have Christmas decorations to dig out and put up, too. Mine are usually up the day after Thanksgiving.

He wants me to do school.

AAAAAAACCCCCCKKKKK -- I need a wife. Breathe, just breathe.

Thomas and I had a brief conference. He has agreed to do nonfiction reading, spelling, reading, and math tomorrow. Easy for me, I only have to assist with math. Thank you, Thomas, for coming through for me. Oh, he volunteered to do home ec as well.

School. I need a week to get everything caught up!

We're home, we made it safely, thank goodness. Sadly, we killed a deer on our way to South Dakota. It jumped right in front of us and there was nothing possible but to hit her head on. Thomas bawled for an hour. I shook for an hour. DH pulled the deer off the road. Luckily we had no damage to our car.

I am exhausted. Whine, whine, whine.

School. Tomorrow. We'll just have to see about that.

Frankie, the zombie

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Unhappy Momma

I'm not a happy momma. Nope.

Friday, my sister-in-law asked if Thomas would like to go with her husband, son and another cousin to their house for the weekend. NO, I uttered. Their home is four hours from where we are staying.

I got lectured that I need to let go and let him experience life and quit worrying. I got chided (spg?) by my husband. I got pissed and told my husband it was up to him.

Thomas went.

He has ragged on me the entire weekend. I have not said one word about Thomas at all, but the teasing will not stop.

Now it's not that I don't trust my BIL, I do. I know Thomas will have fun. The whole point is why on earth did they need to drive four hours away when they were already at grandma's house having fun? In fact, they could have more fun at grandma's because grandma lives on 30 acres, has a cave, has a spring, has a creek. The boys were building a fort outside. They were having a blast here.

I have caught nothing but flack from almost every family member. There are 20 family members here, minus the three boys and BIL.

So here's the funny part. I finally asked my SIL *why* she wanted the boys to go to her home. Well, my sisters pick on my son and he gets upset and stressed out over it, so I just don't want him around that.

Okay, so is it me being overprotective or is it her?

This SIL is a public school teacher. I have had to endure the "homeschooled kids who enter the public school are always behind" BS the entire weekend. Did you all know that I am the only homeschool mother that is good? The rest don't put any thought into their children's educations. The rest don't educate their children.

The worst about all the homeschool talk has been that I cannot seem to come up with a good comeback. I sit there looking stupid, because I can't counter her. I guess I'm so shocked by what she says.

She wanted to know when we were putting Thomas back in public school. I smiled and said I didn't know. How about: WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER?

I think someone needs to make a list of anti-homeschool comebacks. I want to memorize it.

I have a headache.